Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Sunday a group of us got together at the NSS to go do Valhalla. JR was kind enough to set up the whole trip and bring some mulch - at the request of the SCCi for the rigging area. We used his brand new rope and also Jimmy's, so we had two ropes and six attendees.Valhalla is truely a sight to see; its an open air, 230' pit that bells out to over an acre on the bottom and also has plenty of cave to explore. Andrew, who was the only one who'd been anwhere in the cave other than the pit, lead us back to the 200' Mega Dome through some pretty fun cave.

J.R. rigging his new rope

From left to right - me, Fred, J. R. Derek, Andrew and Jimmy in the bottom of Valhalla

How far down we traveled - and how much we had to climb to get back out - 230'

These were some pretty cool holes in the mud formed from water droplets falling 200' from the ceiling in the Mega Dome.

Looking down to Fred, Derek and Andrew in the main pit.

Just before the climb looking out of Valhalla- you can see the ropes on the right side of the frame.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Tyrollean

Well, since I've already explained it, I guess I'll just upload some photos of Saturday. It was a great success and everyone (except for one gal who had to be taken to the hospital - long story - but she is ok!) had a great time. I think the best part about it was the swimming. It was pretty hot out and the water below the falls was bath water for about a foot and a half layer and then cold below that - and the view from below in the middle of the splash down pool was incredible.

Here Michelle was rigging the pulley a bit higher on the high side.

Here's Tommy on a large piece of breakdown after we rappelled down below from the high side.

The view from below as someone whizzes over.

Tommy getting back on rope to climb. I climbed back up the rope you see on the rocks.


Friday, July 14, 2006

HCRU Tyrollean

So Laura was asking me what I was up to this weekend and when I told her I was going to go do the HCRU (Huntsville Cave Rescue) Tyrollean, she asked me what a tyrollean was. I tried to send her a little diagram I drew up real quick (you'll have to click on the above image to be able to read it), but it didn't go through. So I said hang on - I can post it! And everyone will know what I'll be up to on Saturday. Technically its a high line above the falls, but its always been called a tyrollean. You put a harness on and then clip into a 2 inch pulley that's on the rope strung across the falls and then you pretty much walk off of a cliff - more like run off... but you get the picture. You brake a bit by tapping the rope behind you and then there are "catchers" on the low side to help you off the rope. Better than any roller coaster adrenaline rush for sure! I'll probably rappel both side of the cliff face also and maybe go for a swim if its hot out.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sinking into Never

I finished this painting of Neversink last Sunday (started/finished it while I was stuck recouping at home), probably the first real painting I've done in a few years. I've done some pen and inks, but haven't gotten to sit down and use brushes in a long while, and probably one of a handful of watercolors I've done. The last one I can recall was of the Ponce de Leon Hotel courtyard a good 7 or 8 years ago. Watercolors always seem so weak, not bold enough - but this subject was perfect for them - what with the sky/trees being washed out into white. It had to be either watercolor or airbrush and I'm not quite set up to do airbrushing yet. It's about 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall. I'm planning on sending this off to the Speleoart exhibit in Bellingham Washington for the NSS Convention they are having next month. Still working on a title - the best I've come up with is "Sinking into Never," but I'm for any suggestions!

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Blast From the Past #21

Well since I just had a birthday I decided to go with a birthday themed Blast From the Past. From what I can tell this is my 6th birthday. The top photo from left to right: Felicia Altenburger, Shannon Zellars, me, Brittany Duke, ? don't remember her name ?, Krista Travesa. I went to school for at least 9 years with some and 12 years with Felicia and Brittany and now I don't even know what they are doing, or where they are. The second photo is hysterical to me - apparently I was quite disgusted with the candles on the pizza.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

This Old House #1

On this episode of "This Old House" were going to show you some real results in the ongoing kitchen project at Paul's house. I have some before and after (and in-between) shots and I will explain each as I go along. There's still more to do in the kitchen (re-shelf the pantry, paint and install a light) But for now we've seen some amazing results in this 6 month + project and after looking at the original "before" photos its amazing to see just how much two people (and a nutty dog) have accomplished!

These were both taken in late December 2005 when Paul took down the wallpaper. Two lovely layers (pineapples with a chair rail of blue, on top of brown and turquoise sea shells) stuck straight to the drywall with no primer. What a mess!

Here is the stove section with the paper off and the beginnings of a primer coat down in January 2006.

Here's the sink side with the pale yellow and the blue tape still up, late January 2006.

After stripping doors and hardware off the cabinets and purchasing new hardware in February, we finally got around to sanding with the help of a few professional sanders that we borrowed (Thanks Tommy!) and started priming the cabinets in May 2006. See the cord hanging down in the top cabinet above the sink? That's how the original power for the light was furnished. Paul rerouted the electrical through the wall and provided an extra outlet and we bought a new light. Now there's no silly cord to get in the way, or holes in the cabinet shelves.

After careful calculation and some scratching of heads we punched through the top panel of the cabinets (that you can see painted in the last photo) and added another 18 feet worth of open shelving. Why the installers of these cabinets hadn't though to do that in the first place - I don't know? A few uprights and some fancy maneuvering and we had a heck of a lot more storage space, and more to paint in early June 2006.

The new light is installed, the holes patched in the cabinet and ceiling, and several coats of paint have been applied to the new shelving.

And last but not least - the finished project, a beautifully redone kitchen looking like new!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blast From the Past #21

So one of the days my Mom and Dad and I were running - Saturday I believe - we drove over to Scottsboro for an Unclaimed Baggage run and happened upon "First Monday" in the downtown square. First Monday doesn't really occur on Monday but it does occur on the first weekend on the month which happened to be when we drove through. They close the town square off and let people set up little booths with all sorts of things - antiques, junk, new stuff, old stuff, vegetables, etc. We also made our way through a few of the little stores by the square. I found a treasure trove for $5. At first I thought it was just a big cheese crate - which was pretty cool in itself for $5 - but inside there were about 30 old patterns from the 40s-70s and then on top of that a slew of old photographs. Usually I think someone else's old photos are kind of creepy, but these were all smiling happy faces and some cool old cars, etc, so they were pretty cool. Let me stress again - all for FIVE DOLLARS! I bought it (obviously) and my Dad and I had a time sorting though all the old photos and my Mom and I looked through the patterns.

So this blast from the past is a two parter. There's one pattern in particular - from 1948 that is SO SWEET and I am so going to attempt to make it. The one I like is the Red and White Striped outfit on the far right.

The second part is a photobooth picture of a couple that is so wonderfully nostalgic. I found it in and amongst the patterns and other photos in my $5 cheese crate treasure chest. The back of the photo is blank. I think I could write an entire story from this single photo and I don't even know who they are. They look so happy in this shot and I can imagine the other three photos above it of them goofing off, maybe one of them kissing? The fellows uniform, her hair bow, the red lipstick. It makes me wonder about what happened to both of them, how their lives played out. In my version of their story they had their happy ending.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Good Birthday & Some Bad Timing

So my birthday was wonderful - haven't spent one this happy in a while. Family and friends all around. My folks came up to visit Paul and I, and spend a long birthday weekend - which was made even better when my boss announced that he was giving us July 3rd off too! Had a wonderful sushi dinner at Miako. Paul and my Mom and Dad and I shopped, and went out to eat and visited and generally wandered Huntsville. And then of course, to mess is all up I got some sort of nasty flu bug. Bleaugh! So now I'm at home... still. Had to spend my last day with my parents in bed. I am just VERY glad no one has shown any signs of getting it, and hopefully me running and hiding in bed when I started running a fever helped. So now I'm stuck here trying to get better. I hate being sick, it slows me down too much. But it was indeed a most wonderful birthday!

Even the squeaking rat wished me happy birthday!

My Mom and Dad headed on out this morning,back to FL.